KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

U.S. Spending On Prescription Drugs, Doctor Visits Levels Off

A study by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics found that senior citizens in particular are filling fewer prescriptions as out-of-pocket costs increase.

The New York Times: Americans Cutting Back On Drugs And Doctor Visits
Patients cut back on prescription drugs and doctor visits last year, a sign that many Americans are still struggling to pay for health care, according to a study released Wednesday by a health industry research group (Thomas, 4/4).

NPR Shots Blog: Drug Spending Levels Off, But Not For The Usual Reasons
Greater use of generics had something to do with the leveling off. In 2011, according to IMS, 80 percent of dispensed prescriptions were generics and generic spending grew by $5.6 billion. But the bigger reason for the slow growth was a decline in actual use of prescription drugs, particularly by seniors, who are traditionally the biggest consumers of the products (Rovner, 4/4).

Bloomberg: Seniors Ration Spending On Drugs As Costs Rise In Weak Economy
U.S. senior citizens are filling fewer prescriptions for drugs as out-of-pocket costs rise in a weak economy, undercutting a record level of new product introductions by drug companies, industry researchers said. Dispensed prescriptions to patients 65 and older declined 3.1 percent in 2011, compared with a 2.7 percent dip in 2010, according to a study released today by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics in Parsippany, New Jersey. For all age groups, prescriptions fell 1.1 percent last year. The economy and increased cost-sharing requirements are causing people to make fewer doctor visits and fill fewer orders for pills, IMS said (Armstrong, 4/4).

The Associated Press: U.S. Prescription Spending Again Nearly Flat
Spending on prescription drugs in the U.S. was nearly flat in 2011 at $320 billion, held down by senior citizens and others reducing use of medicines and other health care and by greater use of cheaper generic pills. Last year, spending on prescription drugs rose just 0.5 percent after adjusting for inflation and population growth, according to data firm IMS Health. Without those adjustments, spending increased 3.7 percent last year. The volume of prescriptions filled fell about 1 percent (Johnson, 4/4).

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